OTSC offers hands-on, real-world work experience to high school students


Bilal Ibrahim, Staff Writer

Oakland Schools Technical Campus (OSTC), or OTech, is an extention of high school where students go another campus for half of the school day. Rather than sitting in desks taking notes at a normal high school, 103 RHS students venture to OTech campuses to get hands-on experience in a career path their interested in taking.

Senior Nick Maier, a current OTech student, agrees that this opportunity is great for anyone who wants actual experience in a career field.

“I would recommend [Otech] to students that are more hands-on learners,”  Maier said.

Counselor Mrs. Laura Zotos recommends OTech to any student who is serious about it.

“Honestly, I would recommend any student,” Mrs. Zotos said.“It’s really for almost anybody in the school. It would take some maturity. It’s almost like you’re going to a college campus setting because you’re getting into a car or a bus and you’re leaving this campus and going to another building.”

OTech is a more focused program, where students get to choose their career path even before graduating high school.

“It gives you a specialty in the field, more than a high school could give you,” Mrs. Zotos said.

Senior Jeff Ternes believes that there are many opportunities at OTech worth trying out.

“Hands-on and crafty students would very much enjoy OTech,” Ternes said. “With its many different programs, students have a variety of options to choose from.”

Mrs. Zotos also believes that OTech has many opportunities for all different types of students because of the diverse list of programs available.

“There’s a lot of knowledge that you’re getting that is going to really help you know if this is your area of talent and interest,” Mrs. Zotos said. “You’re going to get hands on work with professionals in the fields like agriscience, automotive, business or computer programming.”

Ternes agrees that he has acquired many useful skills in his time at OTech.

“Otech has really helped me expand my knowledge of vehicles and has given me better work ethic,” Ternes said. “I felt like normal high school was holding me back and was teaching me skills I had little use for.”

As Mrs. Zotos cautioned, OTech does require responsibility and time management.

“You have to manage your time and be able to get there in time,” Mrs. Zotos said. “I would say it takes some maturity. The kids who are most successful at Otech are the ones that really take it seriously.”

In some careers, OTech offers opportunities after graduation that aren’t offered in high school.

“If you’re in the health sciences, you get to spend most of your second year in a hospital,” Mrs. Zotos said. “When you’re in cosmetology, you’re actually getting a college degree. You get certificates that can get you a job right after high school.”

Some OTech students are certified to get a job in their field right after graduating from high school.

“They can also connect you to jobs when you graduate in the field. I had a student last year that was in the automotive program,” Mrs. Zotos said. “In his senior year, they placed him at a Ford dealership and he actually got to work at a car dealership.”

Even if students don’t necessarily want a job right after they graduate, the experience can be equally useful.

“They offer opportunities to meet people in the field, to network for jobs, to get college credit,” Mrs. Zotos said. “Some of these programs you’ll walk out for actual credit in an associate’s degree program.”

Other than opportunities, OTech also offers a refreshing change in the day.

“It’s great for the kid who gets bored in school,” Mrs. Zotos said. “They get to make that big change in the day, get out and get some fresh air, get on a bus or in a car.”

As an OTech student who gets to experience this different type of education system, Ternes believes that he is learning many valuable skills at OTech that could really help him get a career in the future.

“I learned about proper vehicle repair, which will help me in a future career as an automobile engineer,” Ternes said.

On the other hand, senior Nick Maier doesn’t plan to study car repair work in the future.

“I learned how cars work and how to fix them cosmetically,” Maier said. “I don’t think I want to do this or anything related to this as a career.”

Many students have shared mostly positive experiences of OTech with Mrs. Zotos. If students aren’t sure about going to OTech, they’re still encouraged to try it out.

“Most kids like it because they go back [for] a second year. You don’t have to go back for a second year,” Mrs. Zotos said. “You can try it for a year and if you don’t like it, you don’t have to go back. You could even try it for a semester.”

To graduate high school, students need certain credits, such as two years of world language. It may be difficult for some OTech students to fit these classes in after spending half their school day at OTech. However, the FLEX options are designed to allow students to dedicate their time to OTech without missing out on their graduation requirements.

“Our school offers these FLEX options to fit it into your schedule. CTE programs are things you can swap out if you don’t have time to get all your requirements in,” Mrs. Zotos said. “You can take only one credit of world language because you’re in a CTE program. You can take only two credits of science and swap out your fourth math credit. It helps you fit it in.”

Mrs. Zotos believes the adjustment and new environment of OTech may be a positive experience.

“Our kids adjust very well. I think that Rochester High offers you the skills and the tools that you need to make that transition,” Mrs. Zotos said. “I think it gives you a level of independence that you don’t get by just coming to the same place all day.”